Il signor Bruschino is a farsa giocosa that Giuseppe Foppa derived from Le fils par hasard (1808) by Alisan de Chazet and E.T. Maurice Ourry.
The first performance was produced at Teatro San Moisè, Venice, on 27th January 1813; interpreters: Nicola de Grecis (Gaudenzio), Teodolinda Pontiggia (Sofia), Luigi Raffanelli (Bruschino padre), Gaetano del Monte (Bruschino figlio and Un delegato di polizia), Tommaso Berti (Florville), Nicola Tacci (Filiberto), Carolina Nagher (Marianna).
The authograph is in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.
Florville arrives at old Gaudenzio’s country house; he is longing to see Sofia, Gaudenzio’s ward, again and wants to marry her, but the girl tells him that her guardian has chosen another husband for her. She is to marry the son of a certain Signor Bruschino, whom none of them have ever met, but only know through letters. Left alone, Florville decides that he will break up this marriage contract at all costs; by a lucky chance he meets the innkeeper Filiberto, who has come to speak to Gaudenzio. And so Florville hears that Bruschino’s son is being kept under lock and key at the inn because he has run up debts to the tune of over 400 francs. Florville pretends to be young Bruschino’s cousin and offers to pay off part of the debt, on condition that Filiberto keeps the young man locked up a little while longer. The innkeeper leaves, giving Florville a letter written by the imprisoned youth to his father, which Filiberto was meant to give to Gaudenzio to forward to Bruschino Senior. Gaudenzio has never seen the proposed bridegroom, and Florville decides to impersonate him and marry Sofia himself.
In order to round off the plot perfectly, he forges a letter purporting to be from Signor Bruschino, asking Gaudenzio to have his idle son arrested and brought to Gaudenzio’s house; he encloses a description of his son (perfectly describing Florville himself, needless to say). He gives this letter to Marianna, the maid, who delivers it to Gaudenzio. Florville then willingly allows himself to be arrested by Gaudenzio’s servants and begins to act the part of young Bruschino. But, just when things are working out nicely, who should turn up but the elder Bruschino, hitherto supposed to be suffering from an attack of gout. Keeping up his act, Florville begs “his father’s” forgiveness, but Bruschino repeatedly refuses to recognize this strange young man as his son, and, fearing that he is being swindled, he calls in the police. A Deputy arrives and, to prove the identity of the new young Bruschino, his handwriting is compared in two different letters; for a moment Bruschino hopes that the fraud will be exposed, but as both the letters were written by his own son (one is the letter given by Filiberto to Florville, the other written by the imprisoned youth to the Deputy) the handwriting is the same and everyone except poor Bruschino is convinced that Florville is the real Bruschino Junior.
Gaudenzio and the others now believe that Bruschino’s repeated refusal to recognize his own son is merely a pretence, and that for some reason he now wishes to get out of his contract with Gaudenzio. They all scold Bruschino, who grows more and more angry, frustrated and confused. In the midst of all this Filiberto returns; at first he seems to be upholding the imposture because he confirms that the young man posing as Bruschino’s son is really named Bruschino, but that, of course, is because Florville originally told him that he was the cousin of the young man shut up in the innkeeper’s loft. But all Filiberto really wants is the 200 francs still owing to him, which he now tries to obtain from Bruschino, and the truth comes out.
Gaudenzio interviews Sofia on her views about the married state, and asks whether she likes the young man, supposedly her betrothed; at first she most unconvincingly feigns innocence, but when Gaudenzio dilates upon the joys of the married state, she begs to be married at once. Bruschino overhears Florville talking to himself and so discovers his real name; he is the son of Gaudenzio’s worst enemy. Delighted by this discovery, and seeing his way to a little revenge for the trick that has been played on him, Bruschino now accepts the impostor Florville as his son and persuades Gaudenzio to bless the betrothal of the young couple. No sooner has Gaudenzio done this than Filiberto reappears, announcing the arrival of the real Bruschino Junior, who enters to the strains of a mock funeral march and begs his father to forgive him. Gaudenzio is furious when he learns that he has joined his ward in matrimony to the son of the detested Senator Florville, but his old enemy is dead now, and he has no choice but to forgive Florville, for Bruschino makes the most of his opportunity, teasing Gaudenzio in the very words Gaudenzio had used to upbraid him: «Shame! Just out of spite, you refuse to recognize your own son!». The opera ends amidst the general rejoicings.